The order implements President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 13998, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, “to save lives and allow all Americans, including the millions of people employed in the transportation industry, to travel and work safely.”
In an announcement of the order sent to Federal Railroad Administration stakeholders and partners on Jan. 31, an agency representative wrote the following: “Science-based measures are critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Mask-wearing is one of several proven life-saving measures including physical distancing, appropriate ventilation and timely testing that can reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Requiring masks will protect America’s transportation workers and passengers, help control the transmission of COVID-19, and aid in re-opening America’s economy.”
In addition to the CDC order, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates issuing additional information and guidance.
SMART Transportation Division today petitioned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to prioritize essential transportation workers as recipients of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.
“Without a healthy, robust transportation sector, our country cannot hope to effectively implement any vaccination strategy,” SMART-TD and two other unions wrote. “We ask that you recognize these concerns by prioritizing frontline transit and rail workers in the next phase of vaccine allocation (Phase 1b) in your upcoming recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
SMART Transportation Division has lost at least 12 active members in the bus, freight rail and transit crafts to the COVID-19 pandemic according to reports received by the TD office.
The letter was also signed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Transport Workers Union of America.
Apple Inc., in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released an app and website that guides Americans through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms.
The tool provides CDC recommendations on next steps, including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a medical provider.
This app is designed to help Americans heed CDC guidelines and self-isolate to limit COVID-19 transmission as the pandemic continues.
Sleep deprivation impacts workplace safety, productivity and individual health
(DARIEN, Ill.) March 2018 – Getting insufficient sleep and working while fatigued have become commonplace in the modern 24/7 workforce, with more than 37 percent of workers sleep-deprived.[i] Over-worked and over-tired employees experience cognitive declines and present employers with heightened safety risks and increased economic costs. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project – including partners the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Sleep Research Society (SRS) and the National Safety Council (NSC) – is launching the “Sleep Works for You” campaign, encouraging employers to help workers avoid fatigue and develop healthy sleep habits for long-term success and well-being.
“Working long hours and sleeping less than the recommended seven or more hours has become a badge of honor in many industries, despite evidence that proves a lack of sleep hurts productivity, safety and overall health,” said AASM President Dr. Ilene Rosen. “It is essential for employers to promote health and safety by creating a workplace culture that values the importance of sleep.”
The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project encourages employers to promote sleep health in the workplace with three steps:
Learn about sleepiness in the workplace, its costs, its causes and how fatigue can lead to a higher rate of safety incidents
Educate employees on fatigue, sleep health and sleep disorders, as well as strategies to improve alertness on the job, as part of a comprehensive employee wellness program
Investigate the causes of fatigue in the workplace and implement fatigue risk management as part of a safety management system
“Nearly 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep problem, and nearly 60 percent of them have a chronic disease that can harm their overall health,” said Janet B. Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health.“Lack of sleep and sleep disorders, including stops in breathing during sleep (sleep apnea), excessive daytime sleepiness (narcolepsy), restless legs syndrome, and insomnia, are increasingly recognized as linked to chronic disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and cancer.”
The Cost of Fatigue
According to the NSC, fatigued workers cost employers about $1,200 to $3,100 per employee in declining job performance each year, while sleepy workers are estimated to cost employers $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.
To help employers gauge how much fatigue may be adding to annual expenditures, NSC and Brigham and Women’s Hospital created an online Fatigue Cost Calculator.
“Sleepless nights hurt everyone,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P Hersman. “Many of us have been conditioned to just power through our fatigue, but worker health and safety on the job are compromised when we don’t get the sleep we need. Doing nothing to address fatigue costs employers a lot more than they think.”
Impact of Sleepiness on Safety
Sleepiness causes decreased performance capacity, and tired workers become slower, more error prone and less productive. Research shows that fatigue impairs employees’ ability to function properly and puts them at a greater risk of a safety incident.[ii] In fact, about 13 percent of work injuries are attributable to sleep deprivation.[iii]
Sleepiness also impacts safety for those who drive as part of their job or commute to and from work. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that fatigue has been a contributing factor in 20 percent of its investigations over the last two decades. That’s why the NTSB included “reduce fatigue-related accidents” on its 2017 – 2018 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
In February, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a research brief estimating that drowsy driving is involved in up to 9.5 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. Projections from the AAA Foundation indicate that drowsy driving causes an average of 328,000 motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year, including 6,400 fatal crashes.
Maximizing Health of Shift Workers
The effects of sleepiness are exacerbated and pose a constant struggle for workers who work night shifts or rotating shifts, and for those who work long hours or have an early morning start time. U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show about 15 percent of full-time employees in the U.S. perform shift work, many of whom suffer from chronic sleep loss caused by a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses that negatively impact a worker’s well-being and long-term health.
There are significant differences in the rate of insufficient sleep among occupations. A recent CDC analysis found that the jobs with the highest rates of short sleep duration were communications equipment operators (58.2%), other transportation workers (54.0%) and rail transportation workers (52.7%).
Night shift workers and those driving during nighttime hours are most at risk for chronic sleep loss. The NSC found that 59 percent of night shift workers reported short sleep duration compared to 45 percent of day workers, while the risk of safety incidents was 30 percent higher during night shifts compared to morning shifts.
Employers with personnel in safety-sensitive positions are urged to implement a fatigue risk management system. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides educational resources on sleep, shiftwork, and fatigue for employees and managers involved in aviation, emergency response, healthcare, railroads and trucking.
Employers can help shift workers fight fatigue by implementing the following strategies:
Avoid assigning permanent night-shift schedules
Assign regular, predictable schedules
Avoid long shift lengths
Give employees a voice in their schedules
Rotate shifts forward when regularly changing shifts
About the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project
The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project was initiated in 2013 and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The project involves collaboration with the Sleep Research Society and other partners to address the sleep health focus area of Healthy People 2020, which provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The sleep health objectives are to increase the medical evaluation of people with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, reduce vehicular crashes due to drowsy driving and ensure more Americans get sufficient sleep. For more information, visit www.projecthealthysleep.org.
[i] Yong LC, Li J, Calvert GM. “Sleep-related problems in the US working population: prevalence and association with shiftwork status.” Occup Environ Med Published Online First: 08 September 2016. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-103638
[ii] Lombardi, D. A., Folkard, S., Willetts, J. L., & Smith, G. S. (2010). Daily sleep, weekly working hours, and risk of work-related injury: US National Health Interview Survey (2004–2008). Chronobiology international, 27(5), 1013-1030
[iii] Uehli, K. “Sleep problems and work injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Sleep Med Rev. 2014 Feb;18(1):61-73. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 May 21.
Vaccine for the highly contagious H1N1 virus (commonly called “swine flu”) is now being released to the public as supplies become available. The information below will help you decide if you should obtain the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that certain priority groups should receive the H1N1 flu vaccine. These groups are:
caregivers for children younger than six months of age;
health care and emergency medical services personnel;
children and young adults from six months through 24 years old;
persons aged 25 through 64 years who have underlying health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, conditions that suppress the immune system, heart disease and kidney disease) that might increase their risk for flu-related complications.
In an effort to minimize the occurrence of H1N1 flu among railroad plan participants and their dependents, the Railroad Employees National Health and Welfare Plan and the National Railway Carriers and United Transportation Union Health and Welfare Plan and their medical vendors (Aetna, Highmark and UnitedHealthcare), as well as the Railroad Employees National Early Retirement Major Medical Benefit Plan and its medical vendor (UnitedHealthcare), have taken a number of steps to reduce the cost of immunization.
To that end, effective immediately, the plans named above will cover the administration of the H1N1 vaccine through the end of December 2009 for covered plan participants and dependents, with no co-pays, deductibles or coinsurance payments.
A decision as to whether or not this special coverage handling will be extended into 2010 will be made by the end of the year.
Where to get the vaccine
Employees and their dependents have a broad range of options from which to choose where to get the H1N1 flu vaccine:
Public health clinics: The H1N1 vaccine should be available at most local public health clinics at no cost. Please call the health clinic first to make sure it has the vaccine.
Retail pharmacies and other clinics: Please call the pharmacy or other clinic first to make sure it has the H1N1 vaccine available.
Doctor’s office: Contact your primary care physician or network provider to find out if the H1N1 vaccine is available and if you should be immunized. Please note office visit co-pays will not apply if you see your doctor solely to obtain the H1N1 flu vaccine.
For the latest information on the H1N1 flu vaccine, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/) and/or contact your benefit administrator: